A newly released video has revived an age-old question. Is there really a monster living in the unexplored depths of Loch Ness?
Of course when I read about the video, I had to click, and watch it. And… well there’s definitely something travelling across the water, because there’s a pronounced wake. Which moreover changes direction, making a ninety degree turn. But it’s sadly not possible to make out what’s causing that v-shaped trail in the water.
All the same, I really want to believe in Nessie and so I will. Despite pictures that sometimes look a lot like floating logs or old pieces of lead pipe, theories about plankton or freak tidal events, I’d really like to think that she exists. Better still, since the stories about Nessie reach back a long way in time I’m open to the possibility that there’s a Mr Nessie, along with a whole gang of Nessie juniors ready to take up monster duties when their parents retire. Since Loch Ness is so deep, it’s not possible to say for sure.
Every country has its own stories. There’s Bigfoot in America, the Yeti in Nepal… I’m not sure what the Australian equivalent is but I’m sure there must be one – perhaps someone can fill me in? A little closer to London, there’s the ‘Beast of Essex’, which is variously characterised as a panther-like creature or a large black ghost-dog, although some people believe that it’s really next door’s cat in the magnifying glare of the moon. Whether or not we believe in them, monsters are an acknowledgement that this world contains more than we know, which is undoubtedly true.
Of course monsters can be terrifying. Perhaps it’s this that explains the frustratingly shaky quality of monster photography. Faced with a large mythical creature my first instinct would be to run, so those brave souls who stop to take a picture can’t be blamed if they’re a bit out of focus.
The scariest monsters though are the ones from our childhoods. When I was little I was afraid of wolves – I’d seen some at the zoo and hadn’t liked the way they looked at me one bit. Worse still the notion of a wolf lurking in the shadows followed me home on the bus, lying in wait for me under the bed and on top of the wardrobe at night. My mother, who was an intensely practical woman, found a book in the library which reassured readers that wolves were really cowards and that the waving of a white flag would scare them away. So for years I trusted the authority of the written word and took a home-made white flag to bed with me, along with a glass of water, since I’d got the idea from somewhere that wolves didn’t like being drenched either.
In hindsight the wolves were probably just a symbol of all my childish fears rolled into one – if wolves hadn’t caught my imagination then something else would have done. And the simple remedies that calmed my fears were a reassurance that everything in life could be fixed if you found the right answers. I like to think that I apply a little more logic to my fears now, but in truth perhaps the monsters we create are the ones that we need.
And maybe, one day, these monsters might venture from their hiding places. Who knows we may find that they’re not really monsters at all but gentle creatures who will bask in the sun and share our sandwiches with us, on the shores of Loch Ness. There’s something about the idea which reminds me of the themes of so many books that I’ve read, venturing into the unknown and maybe finding that things are not always as we thought they were.
But in the meantime, I’m keeping an open mind 🙂